Lecture 1

Topics: Science, Intelligence quotient, Research Pages: 10 (2549 words) Published: January 17, 2014
Consumer’s Guide to Understanding Science and Social Science Research – Introduction (week 1)

Lecture 1 - Social Science Rules of Thumb

Introduction
One result of the 24-hour news cycle is that each of us is now a ‘consumer’ of science; today, research findings are reported by both familiar and emerging media with varying levels of credibility. Mass media do not always report the most important or impactful research findings, nor is reporting always accurate. Some online media outlets are more reliable than others. There are certain things to keep in mind when estimating the likely credibility of various media outlets.

Learning Objectives
This unit will provide an overview of this course, evaluation components, and SFU Library system intro

By the end of this unit, you should be able to:

Describe how you are a consumer of science;
List rules of thumb when assessing the credibility of various sources for science information; Explain how to find scientific journal articles using the SFU Library system

What is science?

What Research is Chosen by Journalits to Publicize

Is it the very best science journalists choose to report? Uh, no. Journalists rarely select the best science but look for results that are most likely to be of wide interest.

Below is a very unscientific list of reasons why 1 study might capture a journalist’s interest versus others.

1. WTF?
Research Study Finds Opposite Gender Friends a “Burden”

2. Opposite than we assumed
Meta-Analysis: High-Dosage Vitamin E Supplementation May Increase All-Cause Mortality

3. No %&^$ Sherlock!
Scientific Study Finds Men like Looking at Breasts

4. Outlier findings - Conclusions that stand in contrast to current understanding Continental-scale temperature variability during the past two millennia

5. Interesting science
Research finds 'US effect' exaggerates results in human behaviour studies

Can Dogs Feel Our Emotions? Yawn Study Suggests Yes

Owners who claim their pets know their feelings may be on to something: A new study shows that canines yawn more in response to their owners' yawns than they do to strangers' yawns.

By Christine Dell'Amore August 8, 2013

That suggests dogs are "emotionally connected" to people, study leader Teresa Romero of the University of Tokyo said in a statement.

Scientists already knew that dogs sometimes yawn when they see people yawn, but it was unclear if that was considered a form of empathy or mild stress, as yawning can be caused by anxiety. So Romero and her team set up an experiment in which 25 pet dogs watched both their owners and strangers yawn or pretend to yawn.

The team ruled out stress when researchers saw no significant differences in the dogs' heartbeats during the experiments, according to the study, published August 7 in the journal PloS ONE.

Not only did the dogs in the study yawn more in response to their owners' yawns, they also yawned less when they saw fake yawns from their owners or from strangers, suggesting they were exhibiting true contagious yawning. Contagious yawning occurs in humans, chimpanzees, baboons, and dogs.

In a similar study published last year, scientists found that people yawn more in response to the yawns of people they care about most.

In the case of people, scientists suspect that contagious yawning is a form of empathizing with people experiencing a feeling, which—in the case of yawning—usually means stress, anxiety, boredom, or fatigue.

Elisabetta Palagi, of the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies in Rome, noted that the study is the first time that scientists have shown contagious yawning occurring between different species. "This could be the result of a long process of domestication," said Palagi, who wasn't involved in the study. "Once more," she said the study "demonstrates that dogs are capable of empathic abilities toward humans."

Who funded the study...
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